My mail box — email and pigeonhole — regularly receives notice of such nominations. Some of them seem legitimate. I've never checked the Who's Who of Australian Women but apparently I'm in it — or will be soon. I've certainly never forked out the money to the various organisations with more or less prestigious signifiers in their title — Princeton, Guinness — though I do know one colleague who very soon regretted giving her credit card details to one such. And in these days where your grant application is measured by your citations, who can blame him/her?
But this one takes the cake, I think. It's from the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England, and features an outline of King's College Chapel on its letterhead. It doesn't say how many people have been nominated, or when the award will finally be made; just that I've been selected as "one of a very limited number of individuals" to receive this accolade which "is bound to raise your status significantly in the international community."
Blah blah blah... I guess there must really be individuals or institutions for whom this would work the required social magic of authority. But what I really love about this is that for a mere US $325 each, I can buy (1) a full colour pictorial testimonial; (2) an official gold-gilt medal of excellence; and best of all (3) a "hand-finished official sash of office."
This silken sash, with golden tassels, has been commissioned by the IBC and is hand-finished by Toye, Kenning and Spencer, makers of Official Regalia worldwide. It is woven in a luxurious Blue and has the Legend of the IBC along with the words INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR embroidered in a golden thread. The recipient's name will be added to the Sash below the Legend.Oh yes, I can just see me turning up to the Vice-Chancellor's Christmas lunch wearing my sash. Sorry, my sash of office.
But don't you think it's a little uncanny this is sent to the person who writes on Wynnere and Wastoure, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Order of the Garter, when all these texts feature sashes or girdles or belts and embroidery in gold and blue or green? Oh, and Ned Kelly, who wore the green and gold sash he received as a boy, for saving a drowning boy, to the fatal siege at Glenrowan? Or is it just that the symbolism and textile luxury of a sash of honour are further examples of the afterlife of conspicuous medieval consumption? Wonder if the girls in the Miss Universe contest have to pay $325 for their sashes?